Islet Autotransplantation Program Celebrates One Year Anniversary
Many MUSC patients experiencing pain relief
In March 2009, for the very first time, MUSC treated a pancreatitis patient with
After years of suffering from chronic pain and nausea, our first patient remains
insulin free and on minimal pain medications today. Since that first patient, we
have treated more than 30 others with this procedure. We have seen excellent results,
with most of our patients tapering down on their long term pain medications. A third
of our patients are insulin free and another quarter are on minimal amounts of daily
is an inflammatory disease of the pancreas where the pancreas becomes scarred and
damaged over time, resulting in severe, debilitating pain for patients affected.
While many patients are treated well with medications or endoscopy procedures, select
patients with pain from chronic pancreatitis are best treated with surgery to remove
most or all of the pancreas. While this is an excellent means of pain relief, the
patient is inevitably left with long term diabetes, which can be very difficult
A procedure can be performed, however, where the patient’s removed pancreas is processed
in a lab and the islet cells, which are the cells that make insulin, are returned
back to the patient within several hours of surgery. The cells are infused into
the liver, where they begin to make insulin within one to two weeks after surgery,
to help prevent long term severe diabetes. This procedure, called islet autotransplantation,
requires special facilities and is available at only a handful of centers in the
Download MUSC Patient Guide for Pancreatic Islet Cell Autologous Transplant Program (970KB)
Our program is proudly growing, with patients treated from all over the Southeastern
United States. Given our long history of managing patients with chronic pancreatitis,
we are well poised for this program here at
MUSC's Digestive Disease Center. We have a strong interdisciplinary patient
care team, consisting of our gastrointestinal surgeons, gastroenterologists, psychologists,
endocrinologists, interventional radiologists, and pain management nurse specialists.
We look forward to helping more patients with this difficult disease process. We
expect our experience will contribute to a better understanding of chronic pancreatitis
and the development of new therapies to treat the disease. We also hope that our
experience can help in the advancement of new therapies for patients with diabetes.
For more information about the islet autotransplantation program at MUSC, please
call (843) 876-0420.